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Museum hosting talk on Germans from Russia and WWI

By Staff | Oct 13, 2017


North Dakota German-Russians and World War I will be the topic of a free talk by University of North Dakota history professor emeritus Dr. Gordon Iseminger at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 22, at Prairie Village Museum, Rugby.

Iseminger’s presentation is part of series of events planned in conjunction with Prairie Village Museum exhibit “From Ploughboys to Doughboys: WWI in the Heart of America.” Curated by collections manager Stephanie Steinke, the exhibit is scheduled to open May 1, 2018.

North Dakota was reluctant to have the United States enter the conflict when war broke out in Europe in 1914. Whether it was because one-fifth of the state’s population were German immigrants or not, many North Dakotans were isolationists. But when the United States declared war on Germany, the state rallied. More than 28,000 North Dakotans served and 474 were killed in battle.

In his presentation, Iseminger will focus on how German-Russian immigrants in McIntosh County (Ashley, Wishek and Zeeland, N.D.) responded to and engaged in WWI. In an article titled “Are we Germans, or Russians, or Americans?” Iseminger tells how McIntosh County German-Russians not only provided men and women for military service . “They economized, collected scrap iron, contributed to the Army YMCA Fund and to the Red Cross, and purchased War Savings Stamps and Liberty Bonds.

“All the while, they refused to get caught up in the war hysteria that was gripping much of the rest of the nation. McIntosh County children contracted German measles, as they had before 1917, and not the ‘liberty’ strain of the disease that so sapped peoples’ energies elsewhere in the country. Nor did county residents eat ‘liberty cabbage.'”

The museum’s WWI programming will continue at 2 p.m., Nov. 12, with a presentation on the “Changing Roles of WWI Pilots and Their Planes” by Glenn Blackaby, director of the Dakota Territory Air Museum, Minot.

The WWI lectures are free and open to the public. The programming is supported in part by a World War I and America grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and other organizations.

For more information, visit the museum website at www.prairievillagemuseum.com or call 701-776-6414.

– Prairie Village


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